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Harley Pre-Ride Checklist

Motorcyclists have a lot of responsibilities, with maintenance being one of the most important. A well-maintained Harley provides optimal performance, making each ride safer and better. Follow this pre-ride checklist to avoid mechanical problems and reduce the risk of accidents.

Tires and Wheels

A bike’s tires are, quite literally, where the rubber meets the road. Bikers don’t want to have problems with their tires, especially at highway speeds. Start with an air pressure check before each ride; it will help if either tire seems to be losing air too quickly. If that’s the case, there may be a broken valve stem, a pinhole, or a problem with the bead.

After the air pressure is checked, inspect the tires’ sidewalls and tread. Tires should be smooth, with no cracks, damage, or bald spots. If there’s something stuck in the tire tread, consider trailering the bike to a nearby shop. Riding with a damaged tire is dangerous—don’t risk it. Start your motorcycling journey on the right foot with a great bike from American Motorcycle Trading Company.

Shaft, Belt, and Chain

Most Harleys have a driveshaft, chain, or belt connecting the engine to the back wheel. On belt-driven bikes, check for proper tension and ensure that the belt isn’t damaged.

Then, examine the chain; it should be clean and well lubricated. After long rides and at the start of riding season, give the chain a thorough cleaning to remove caked-on grease and dirt. Driveshafts typically require little maintenance other than the occasional addition of lubricant, but it’s important to refer to the owner’s manual for specific guidance.


Lights are a simple, yet often overlooked aspect of motorcycling. Before hitting the road, test the bike’s lights and ensure that they’re clear, bright, and responsive to user input. If a light isn’t working, it may be due to a blown fuse, a burned-out bulb, or another electrical issue.


Harleys use a few different kinds of fluids for lubrication and engine cooling, and it’s essential to keep them at the proper level. First, check the engine oil. It should be clean, and the reservoir should be full. If the oil is dark or gritty, replace it right away.

Next, check the engine coolant and transmission fluid. The method may vary from one bike to another, so refer to the owner’s manual for instructions. Some bikes have multiple brake fluid reservoirs; they may both be at the front of the bike, or they may be at the front and the rear.

Throttle, Clutch, and Brakes

After checking the bike’s fluids, it’s time to ensure that its controls work the way they should. Turn the key or kick it over, and then twist the throttle. Does it stick, or does it open and close easily? If the throttle doesn’t stick, put the motorcycle in gear, feeling the motion of the clutch. The bike should move forward when clutch pressure is released. At a slow speed, ensure that the brakes are working as they should.

Follow This Checklist for a Safe and Fun Riding Season

Harley riders are known for their love of the open road and the attention they give their bikes. No matter how careful a rider may be, though, it’s still important to perform some basic maintenance before every trip. By following this easy checklist, you and the bike will be ready to hit the road safely.

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